Study Notes

2Kings 6:1-23

6:1-3 The Sons Of The Prophets

As you recall from our earlier studies in Kings, the "sons of the prophets" probably refers to a ministry school, run by the prophets of the day, and thought to have been initiated in the days of Samuel. In this time period, Elisha was the senior prophet of Israel, and this school seems to be run by him.

Too Limited For Us

The sons of the prophets had outgrown their current facility. They had plans to build a larger dwelling place, but were submitted to Elisha's authority and requested not only permission, but for him to oversee the project.

6:4-7 Losing The Cutting Edge

One of the men was busy working to chop down a tree when the head of the axe he was using flew off its handle and sailed into the water of the Jordan River.

The loss of an axe head is not too uncommon. In the Law commanding the establishment of the cities of refuge, the Lord said,

Deut. 19:5 ...when {a man} goes into the forest with his friend to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down the tree, and the iron {head} slips off the handle and strikes his friend so that he dies —he may flee to one of these cities and live

We can praise God that no one was hurt in this incident, but the realization quickly came upon the man that this was a borrowed axe.

Elisha brought about a miraculous remedy. He asked the man where it fell, cut off a stick, threw it in the water, and the axe head floated to the surface. Then he told the man to take it up himself.

A relatively private miracle, but miraculous nonetheless. God is in the habit of doing small miracles for individuals in distress and in need. Do you expect God to work on your behalf? Jesus said,

Matt. 10:29-31 "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And {yet} not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows."

God really cares about your circumstances, big or little. And He knows the things that you're facing. We all end up in distress at one point or another. We're busy about our business when some disaster happens, some unexpected difficulty arises, some terrible situation occurs. We're sunk! What are we going to do?

Elisha's solution was to take a stick and throw it in the water.

Here's where it gets even more interesting: Actually, the Hebrew word translated "stick" here, is literally "tree." Elisha took a tree and threw it into the river. Why difference does that make to our story? Well, remember, the axe head was inaccessible - it was surrounded on all sides by an impenetrable barrier - the rushing river Jordan. That's the way our problems always seem to us, isn't it?

A stick isn't going to do us any good - but a tree will. A certain tree. The tree on which Christ was killed - the cross. As the apostles said,

Acts 5:30 (NIV) The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead - whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.

If we take the tree, the cross of Christ, and place it in the middle of our difficulty, the barrier is breached. And either the Jordan will dry up, or what we need will float to the surface. Either way, it is accessible to us again.

Elisha said to the man,

2Kgs. 6:7 ..."Take it up for yourself..."

The undoable was suddenly doable. As Jesus said,

Matt. 19:26 ..."With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Put the cross into the middle of your distresses and difficulties, and even the heaviest iron will rise above them.

6:8-12 Elisha Knows All

War had broken out again between Aram and Israel. But God was on Israel's side. He kept telling Elisha the secret plans that the king of Aram was making.

Of course, the king of Aram thought that it was a traitor in his own midst that was feeding information to the Israelis. But his people all said, "No, it's that Elisha - he knows everything spoken in secret!"

6:13-17 Those Who Are With Us Are More

The king's solution to his secrecy problem was to attempt to kidnap Elisha. The prophet was in the city of DO-thawn, about 12 miles north of Israel's capital city of Samaria, and so the Aramean army surrounded the city at night.

The next morning, Elisha's servant was horrified to see the massive army encircling the city. But Elisha's response was quite different. He simply said, "There are more with us than them." Then he prayed, asking the Lord to allow his servant to see the spiritual dimension.

The servant saw that the entire mountain was teeming with horses and chariots of fire.

One thing that we often lose sight of as Christians is that the reality that we can see, smell, taste, feel, and hear is not the only reality there is. There is an entire spiritual realm about which we know very little.

Somehow this spiritual realm is tied in with our own physical realm. And, as we see from the Scriptures, there is the ability of those in the spiritual realm to cross over into the physical realm, or at least affect it. Angels have appeared numerous times, entering our physical realm. Speaking with people, eating with them, even spending the night at their house (see Gen. 19 for example). Demons also are known to have affected the spiritual realm through demonic possession of people and animals (Matt. 8).

Of course we know that God can affect our physical realm, but the devil is also able to. In heaven, he and God had a conversation about the physical realm, and the devil was given permission to work against Job in the physical realm. Storms, sickness, and unrighteous men were all used by the devil in our physical realm.

Paul the apostle tells us,

Eph. 6:11-12 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.}

We are in a battle, but it is not to be waged in the physical realm, because our struggle is not against those in the spiritual realm. Of course, since we live in this realm, we often try to wage spiritual warfare in this realm as well. We extend our hands, hold the cross, speak a prayer of incantation with passion. But in reality, the way spiritual warfare is waged in the physical realm is simply by living godly lives.

Paul goes on to say in Ephesians,

Eph. 6:13-17 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil {one.} And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Living a life marked by truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God will guarantee your victory in the spiritual realm. I don't fully understand how these things are translated into the spiritual realm.

But I know that our praises enthrone God in the spiritual realm (Ps. 22:3). I know that our prayers are a sweet-smelling incense in the spiritual realm (Rev. 5:8). So it stands to reason that when I pray in faith, I am launching fireballs against the gates of hell. It stands to reason that when I make a choice to be godly instead of carnal, I am erecting a protective shield in the spiritual realm.

Elisha seemed to be well aware of this spiritual side of things. And when he prayed for his servant's eyes to be opened to it, the prayer was answered.

6:18 Stricken With Blindness

Elisha's first prayer was for spiritual sight. His next prayer was for physical blindness. It is interesting to me that God is not just one who gives sight, but also takes it away. He is not just the one who gives life, but also judges with death. Saul of Tarsus was stricken with temporary blindness (Acts 9:9), then after becoming an apostle, he himself pronounced this judgment upon Elymas the magician (Acts 13:11).

This may sound like a strange sort of comfort, but let's be honest. Very often we think, "Well I know that God's on my side, that He wants to bless me, but there are these other folks that really have it out for me. They're trying to ruin my life, trying to ruin things for me." But God can both make the blind to see and the seeing to be blind. He can crash their computers, knock out their phone lines, make their cars not able to start, get them transferred out of state... He can do anything.

I pity those who are on a mission to injure a child of God. I am scared for those who oppose the work of a church of God. They can just as easily be supernaturally stricken as we can be supernaturally blessed.

6:19 This Is Not The Way

When the Arameans were stricken with blindness, Elisha told them they were in the wrong place. Now I don't know that he was lying to them. I know that he did not say, "This is not DO-thawn." He simply said, "This is not the city."

Instead, he led them 12 miles south to Samaria, the city in which the king of Israel lived.

6:20-23 Feeding Your Enemies

When their eyes were again opened, they found themselves in Samaria, standing in front of the king of Israel. The king didn't quite know what to do. "Elisha, should I have them killed," he asked.

But Elisha dictated that they not be killed, but treated well. They were to be given food and drink.

And after being treated so well, these men never returned to Israel for war.

This is a thread that runs throughout Scripture - doing good to bad people. Being nice to those who don't deserve it. Romans 12 says,

Rom. 12:17-21 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath {of God,} for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS UPON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is very much like what Jesus taught His disciples:

Luke 6:27-36 "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. And just as you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way. And if you love those who love you, what credit is {that} to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is {that} to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is {that} to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil {men.} Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

Are you actively pursuing this action today? Are you feeding your enemies, praying blessings upon those who have hurt you?

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